Luck is Child's Play to Babby
There was really only one reaction that Lon Babby could have.
As a former sports agent, lawyer and Yale Law School graduate, the Suns’ President of Basketball Operations has always been in control of the challenges placed in front of him. So when it comes to resigning himself and the fortune of his team to luck in tonight’s NBA Draft Lottery, Babby did not mince words.
“I hate it,” he said, laughing. “Not one my five Ps apply here. Actually, I guess ‘Poise’ does, because you have to look poised. But you can’t ‘Prepare,’ so you just have to have luck.
“You can’t take any credit, if we’re successful, and hopefully nobody will blame me if we’re not.”
Babby split his time last week between Chicago for the NBA pre-draft combine and Washington D.C. to visit family before going to New York City, where he will represent the team at the lottery, which is to take place at 5:30 p.m. Phoenix time.
Despite not liking the idea of relying on luck, Babby admitted to not being above the idea of superstition for the team’s sake. He fondly recalled a lucky pair of pants that he wore for all exams from the end of high school through college, but lamented the fact that those pants won’t be with him at the lottery, as they no longer fit.
So in an effort to replace his lucky pants, Babby turned to his 4-year old grandson, Josh, for inspiration.
“He’s 4, almost 5, and he got his first T-ball baseball card that they made up for the team,” Babby said. “So I asked him if I could have one of his cards and if he could autograph it. He signed it ‘Josh,’ and I’m going to make sure that’s with me.
“Even if he doesn’t bring me good luck, I’m happy to have his card with me.”
The hope is that with good luck the Suns could have the lottery balls bounce their way for the first time in franchise history and actually win the No. 1 pick. Phoenix has the fourth-best odds in the lottery to earn the top selection, which would provide Babby, and his new General Manager Ryan McDonough a golden opportunity to speed up the team’s rebuilding effort.
There is no doubt that the team is focused squarely on the draft as its chosen method to rebuild, which is why the executives have placed such high hopes in this year’s lottery and in player-evaluation over the next couple of seasons.
“Well, for me, there is no more important process,” Babby said. “It’s six first-round picks in the next three years and 10 picks overall. The lifeblood of how we’re going to rebuild our franchise is through the draft, and, in Ryan, we now have on board an absolutely first-rate talent evaluator.”
Even though it’s only been two weeks since McDonough officially began as the team’s new GM, the duo in charge of basketball operations seem to have already settled in. That came as no surprise to Babby, who said he knew from the interview process that he and McDonough would “get along famously.”
What impressed the Suns’ president the most was his new general manager’s composure throughout the interview process, even when it turned lengthy.
“It was like I said at the press conference, we had put him through the ringer and by the end of the day I was exhausted and he was fresh as a daisy,” Babby said.
Now, as the team creeps ever-closer to the 2013 NBA Draft on June 27, Babby has helped clear up how the front office is separating responsibilities by saying that McDonough will spearhead all draft-related preparation.
What Babby feels as though he can assist with during the draft process is adding his perspective as a former agent. During that time, the future team executive worked with many players as they prepared for one of their most important professional moments – progressing from the college game to the NBA.
That experience has allowed Babby to develop a better understanding for the way the players approach the evaluation process of the draft.
“The one thing I always try to ask them is how they picked their agent, because I understand how that process works and can then understand what their influences are,” Babby said. “I’m more sympathetic than most with, for example, the real high-end prospects that don’t participate in the competitive part of the (combine) process. A lot of people don’t understand that, but I do from an agent’s perspective.”
With an eye on the team’s immediate future, Babby is ready for tonight’s lottery to take place. Soon the Suns will know where they will pick in the draft, and the sculptors of this team can begin to prepare for individual workouts and the next step in the scouting process.
After today, there won’t be much more left to luck. Finally, Babby will be back in control of the challenge before him.